Absences and Leaves Policy



APPROVED BY MDCM Program Committee
APPROVED ON February 27, 2017
LAST UPDATED January 27, 2020
PERTINENT TO Students / Resident Teacher / Faculty 
PURPOSE General policy for absences and leaves from the MDCM program

View Policy

Questions? See Frequently Asked Questions

Please note: This FAQ list addresses some common student questions about the Absences and Leaves Policy, but is not a substitute for the policy. Please review the full policy as not all aspects of the policy are included here.

  1. Why are TCP and Clerkship mandatory but not all of FMD?
    Every learning activity in the MDCM curriculum is included because the MDCM Program Committee believes that it will help you meet the objectives of the course, the component, and the MDCM Program - this includes the lectures in FMD. Some learning sessions in FMD and all of TCP and Clerkship involve your active participation and are not recorded. These are mandatory because there is no good substitute for being present and participating. Just because something is mandatory doesn’t mean that attendance will be taken at every session. However, if attendance is verified and a student is absent without approval from the UGME Office, this is not considered appropriate behaviour (see Promotion Regulations, point #11).
  2. My request was for an absence was approved. What do I do now?
    Once your request is approved, you should forward the approval to the course administrator (LFME) or Site Administrator and Site Director (TCP and Clerkship) within 48 hours (See Procedure for Requesting an Absence for Short Term Absences, point #5). If the absence is during clerkship, you should also make a call schedule request not to be on-call that day if your activity extends into the evening or weekend. This is not automatic and you might be scheduled for an evening or weekend activity unless you make the request.

    If your request is approved, but once the schedule for the course is finalized there are no mandatory activities at that time, this will not be counted as absence if you notify the UGME Office within 7 days of the absence.
  3. What are the most common reasons for a refused absence request?
    Most requests for absences are approved. There are 3 common reasons that an absence request is refused – a. the deadline was not respected, b. the student has already the maximum number of days absent for the year, or c. the student would miss more than 25% of a course requirement.
    1. If you submit a request after the deadline and it is refused, you should contact the Assistant Dean Student Affairs in the case of a sick day or flex day for urgent personal emergency or medical crisis Exceptions for planned events like conferences are rare; exceptions are only considered if you are presenting at a conference and have been notified less than 42 days before the event that your abstract has been accepted. In this case, you need to submit your request within 72 hours of receiving notification of abstract acceptance.
    2. Once you have used up your Flex or Personal Days for the year there are no extra days, so you have to plan carefully. The reason that there are no extra days, is that missing time from the curriculum adds up. The more days away, the more you miss, and the harder it is to meet the MDCM Program objectives.
    3. Missing more than 25% of a course makes a course incomplete (see Promotion Regulations, point #10). Any absence that would make a course incomplete cannot be approved.
  4. How do I go about submitting a late request or an exception?
    All requests are submitted in the same way – through the Absences and Leaves Request Form. If your request falls within the rules of the policy, it can be approved by the UGME Office. If your request does not fall within the rules of the policy, it will be refused by the UGME Office. If you are facing exceptional circumstances, you should discuss your situation with either the Assistant Dean Student Affairs or the Associate Dean UGME (see Specific Principles for Short Term Absences). If you feel that a request was unfairly refused, you should contact the Assistant Dean Student Affairs if the request is of a personal nature or the Associate Dean UGME if the request is of an academic nature (see Procedure for Requesting an Absence for Short Term Absences, point #4).
  5. Why the 42 days’ notice for most Flex Day and Personal Day requests? Why different days’ notice for other categories?
    Learning activities in the MDCM Program are carefully scheduled and planned. When you miss part of the curriculum, most of the time it doesn’t just affect you – it can affect your peers in the lab or small group, it can affect patients who were counting on you, it can affect the rest of your clinical team who need to work differently to take care of the patients while you’re away, it can affect the teachers who have prepared the session based on a certain number of students being there. In order to allow us to accommodate absence requests, the MDCM Program Committee was unanimous that courses need 42 days’ notice. This is why the deadline was set at 42 days. Experience has taught us that sometimes the Student Aid Office only confirms appointments 7 days in advance – so we set this deadline at 7 days to avoid you having to ask for an exception to take care of student loans. Similarly, we know that although many healthcare appointments are booked well in advance, sometimes you find out about an appointment only a week before – so we set this deadline at 7 days so that the UGME Office can automatically approve most requests for health-related appointments without you having to speak with the Assistant Dean, Students Affairs for an exception. By setting different deadlines for different types of requests, the MDCM Program is trusting you to behave honestly and with integrity and submit according to the appropriate deadline for the appropriate type of absence. 
  6. Why are students held to these standards (ex: days' notice) when the Faculty has more flexible delays to change student's schedules for example?
    Some schedules are prepared by the UGME Office and some schedules are prepared by different hospital or course teaching offices, in particular in the clinical environment. In either case, when schedules change with short notice this should be because of an exceptional circumstance such as someone being ill or having a family emergency, a change in clinic schedule that is out of the control of the supervisor. If you have concerns about your schedule being changed with short notice, you should let the Component Administrator and/or the Component Director know about your concern.


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